Monday 6 April, 2020

‘Code of silence’ amid murder after murder in Annotto Bay, St Mary

The town of Annotto Bay in the north eastern parish of St Mary continues to bleed from a long series of murders and shootings over the past five years, despite the intervention of the police to quell the apparent thirst for blood among criminals there.

With raw sewage running along a number of the roadways in the town, which is marked by some eerie lanes and dilapidated buildings, Annotto Bay has seemingly become a ready breeding ground for hoodlums who continue to foster a notorious culture of violence and bloodshed.

However, despite residents living in constant fear and only quietly expressing their desire to have the authorities do more to apprehend the crime producers, there remains a resistance among them (the residents) to provide the police with critical information to bring stability to the town.

Since the start of this year, approximately seven persons have been murdered in the town, including three-year-old Kalesia Matthews of Cane Lane.

The latest killings were those of 22-year-old Okive Wilson and Travae Ellis, which occurred between Friday afternoon and Saturday.

Notably, the bloodletting in the town has been characterised over the past five years by several incidents of multiple killings, which have left residents of the area in deep fear.

Last year, there were three shooting incidents that resulted in multiple fatalities, in the Fort George and Long Road areas of Annotto Bay. In February of that year, there was a double murder, which was followed by a triple murder in August.

The year ended with two security guards being gunned down while on duty.

Of the 21 murders that occurred in St Mary last year, Annotto Bay was an extremely significant contributor to that figure.

The blood bath in Annotto Bay in 2017 began on Saturday, February 25, when 38-year-old cashier, Diana Boothe, and 47-year-old Robert Brown, were shot and killed by an unknown assailant. The killer was believed to have been a passenger in Brown’s taxi, which was operated on the Fort George to Annotto Bay route. 

Six months later, the town again made headlines when 33-year-old Lincoln Crossdale, otherwise called ‘Blacks’; Ricardo Griffiths, 25, alias ‘Ricky’; and 24-year-old Sherwayne Campbell, were ambushed at about 9:30 a.m. by about seven masked gunmen as they arrived on a farm in an area known as Long Road, on Monday, August 28.

There was more mayhem, as on December 8 that year, gunmen claimed the lives of 52-year-old Vincent Walsh of Crooked River in Annotto Bay, and 40-year-old Cleve Grant of Buff Bay, Portland, who were guards at a Desnoes and Geddes site along Fort George Road.

Walsh, Grant and a third security guard, who all were attached to Marksman Security Company, were pounced upon by gunmen. All three men were shot, with only one surviving.

Police investigators have explained on several occasions that the silence among persons living in the area has been a major deterrence to solving several major crimes in the town.

“Annotto Bay people don’t talk. Often times we need the intelligence to solve our case(s) and we can’t get it from them. It’s just the culture it seems, and it is sad because if you (the residents) don’t tell the police what you know, then how can we prevent a re-occurrence of these heinous crimes?” lamented a police source, who wished not to be named.

The officer also said the residents should seek to develop trust among the law enforcers in order to achieve peace in the area.

“Tell what you know. Call Crime Stop. It is very easy to do. We continue to carry out operations and the information would go a far way in helping us,” the lawmen indicated.

Meanwhile, there continues to be a viewpoint that some criminals from other sections of the island, including the Corporate Area, have taken refuge in sections of Annotto Bay, where narrow lanes with zinc fences are a common site. The deafening silence among the residents in general has reportedly left the criminals well-hidden while they plan violent gun attacks.

The well-executed criminal plans have resulted in deep despair among a number of families which have been torn apart over the years. In 2016, for example, residents were left stunned by a violent murder that claimed the lives of a man, his girlfriend and an eight-month old baby. The incident occurred on September 8 in Fort George. 

Those killed were: 62-year-old labourer Albert Pryce, otherwise called ‘Ali’, of Annotto Bay; 25-year-old Rushell Williams, bartender, and her daughter, eight-month-old Aleair Sewell of Swift River, Portland. They were shot dead as they slept in their house.

It was a similar act three years prior, when David McIntosh, 41; his spouse, Maureen Pinnock, 44; and 27-year-old Dwayne Harris; were all sprayed with bullets by gunmen who kicked open the door to their humble dwelling on Fort George road the morning of July 18, 2013.

While some of the killings plaguing the town over the years have been linked to domestic disputes and feuds among family members, gunmen continue to bring the town to its knees, with the police trying desperately to quash the various tactics being employed by the hoodlums.

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